The NCAA Women’s Final Four is coming to Columbus this season. 1812 spoke with Meredith Cleaver, the NCAA Director of Championships and Alliances. She talked about what’s being done to increase interest in women’s basketball. (The 2017 national championship game had a sell-out crowd and attracted 3.89 million viewers on TV). She also discussed why women’s teams do not attract as many fans as men’s teams, and how UConn’s record-breaking success put a spotlight on women’s athletics.
Stats on men versus women’s college basketball:
- Men’s college basketball has been in operation since 1893. The NCAA men’s tournament began in 1939; the inaugural women’s NCAA tournament took place in 1982, with 32 teams.
- Women’s college basketball has been steadily gaining fans. During the 1999-2000 season, total attendance at Division I games was 6,356,729. Last season (2016-2017), total attendance was 8,300,103. That’s an increase of 2 million fans over 17 years.
- According to NCAA estimates, Division I women’s games average about 1,500 fans per home game. During the 2015-2016 season, UConn had an average of 8,216 fans at each home game.
- Men’s college basketball has grown more quickly over the last 17 years. During the 1999-2000 season, Division I total attendance was 24,281,774. This past season, total attendance reached 31,859,477. That’s an increase of about 7.5 million fans.
The Final Four will be played at Nationwide Arena March 30-April 1, 2018. The Countdown to Columbus, which will kick off the 2017-2018 college women’s basketball season, takes place Sunday November 12, 2017.